‘How do you know, Anon? To save them? What makes one . . . what makes us worthy?’
‘Many are there who are Blood-Born. As much as we wish it were so, we cannot save them all. To do so would refute our purpose. Such power can be both wonderful and horrific. It all depends on who wields it. The Plague is nothing more than a product of the latter. Indeed, you are truly blessed, Alana. You are wonderful. Not only limitless in your ability with the Oneness, but with your capacity for love as well. Have no fear, when someone is worth saving, you will know.’
–The Age of Death,
The High Court of Edroth was ripe with it. No matter how hard they tried to hide it, Alana sensed it in all those who were present. The Blood-Guard, Edroth’s elite soldiers, hid their fear behind glowing ‘halo’ shields, their shard-guns loaded with silver rounds. Her elder brother, the young Prince Gedron, covered his fear in the blue flames of Dreamfire, more than Alana had ever seen him hold before. So much of it that the very fabric of reality was beginning to tear around him; the stone splintering below his feet, the walls cracking when he drew near. Gedron and the Blood-Guard were the High-Court’s last line of defense, and though they all faced the chamber door with determination in their eyes, Alana saw the fear in their hearts, and the knowledge in their minds of the impending doom that was sure to come.
In some, the fear was physically apparent - - her younger sister’s thin fingers trembled in her hand, her mother’s grip – almost painful, as she pulled Alana to her breast. For them, it was pointless to hide it. There was nothing left to them but love. Her mother was Bloodless – had never set eyes on the Dreamfire. Unfortunately, Alana’s sister Ezule inherited their mother’s deficiency, and no matter how hard Alana sought to draw the Dreamfire from her blood, it remained dormant. For them, the fight was all but over. Her mother knew the moment would soon come when, helpless, she would watch her children die. Ezule, too young to comprehend death, knew little more than tales of the Rift. Her young mind was coming to grips with the fact that her every fear was soon to be confirmed and confronted.
Alana felt it, the fear. Their deaths. She knew their end was at hand. Like most things associated with the Dreamfire she didn’t need to understand it or have it confirmed, she knew it just was.
“Father will stop them. He had but a hundred men when he took the Gallow’s Fort, only ten of which were Dreamers. With all of Edroth aligned at his side, even the Dark Horde with fall,” Gedron declared with all the confidence of a king – which he was soon to be, no matter how short-lived his reign.
He truly seemed certain of his own declaration, which made Alana wonder. Could he not see? Was he so focused on holding every last drop of Dreamfire that his mind was closed to the truth? Or had Alana not seen the truth of him until now, that she had greater power though she was but half his age?
She continued to study those in the room, while in her mind the battle unfolded . . .
Only a quarter-day into the battle and the army was routed, her father, the King, lay dying. Mortally wounded, dead hands fell upon him, enslaving him to the Dark Cause. For the first time in her life, she couldn’t sense her father . . .
“Alana,” her mother cried. “Wake up. Please Gods, wake up, child.”
She found herself on the floor, blood pouring from her nose. Her mother’s silver hair tickled her face as she bent over her.
“I’m so sorry, Mother.”
“What is it, child? What happened?”
It was time.
“They’ve taken him . . . Father is gone. I’m sorry. I couldn’t save him, and I fear I can’t save you either, Mother. Or Ezule. Gedron . . . “
She wished death was his only fate.
Her mother’s wide Edrothian eyes were filled with tears and understanding. No matter her lineage, her mother was still a goddess in Alana’s mind -- Intelligent and wise beyond any Seer or Dreamer. Alana’s Father may have imparted her with the Dreamfire, but surely her mother had enhanced it. Her mother always had her own innate understanding of things, an almost prescience. With the Dreamfire alongside that gift, Alana truly could see the shape of things, as they were, as they are, and as they shall be. A Oneness. A singularity of things separate space and time.
She sat up, hugged her mother for what she knew would be the last time. And Ezule . . . She held her even tighter, so fragile and small. So real in her arms, yet moments away from so horrible a fate. She saw it as truth, as unquestionable as her own existence. Could she alter their future? Did she dare try?
Perhaps that’s what it would take? Her life for theirs. What if she didn’t survive this day? Could such a sacrifice make the difference, alter her dream?
The chamber door was blown asunder. Silver shards, and Dreamfire flew towards it. She covered herself in Dreamfire -- more than even her brother held – and turned to face the Dark Horde, not sure if she could change her fate, but determined to die trying.
The Blood Guard was left in bloody pieces. Gedron screamed in rage and pain as his veins blackened. Alana, her power spent, crawled to the crumpled forms of her mother and sister. Dark shadows reared up around her, cutting her off from her family. She knew not their words but sensed their emotions; fear, excitement, admiration. She had truly done her best to change the dream, but it came true all the same. She yet lived only to be converted, no matter how hard she fought and with such reckless abandon for her own life, they had let her live.
This was where her dream ended.
A hand, more shadow than flesh drew near her, pausing just inches from her opaque skin.
The room filled with light, pure and white.
The hand withdrew. The beings didn’t leave, but formed a tight circle around her instead.
‘She has been chosen.’
Between her captures’ legs she saw the speaker approach. A being of pure energy. Faceless, lacking any features to speak of. His body an average size humanoid shape, likewise unremarkable other than the white glow surrounding it.
More words came from her captors, guttural cries of rage. One dared to act upon his anger, and dove for the glowing being. Without any apparent effort, a hand of white energy found the attacker’s neck. The creature’s body began to crumble, its stony, alabaster flesh flaking into dust. It fell to the floor, headless. Seeing its demise, the other Dark Ones parted for the being, no longer regarding him with anger but with an understanding that bordered on reverence. They emanated awe. In their alien tongue one word was repeated among them – Anon.
Exhausted physically and mentally, Alana slumped to the floor, unable to comprehend her sudden rescue, and by so powerful of a being.
“It’s time to go, Alana.”
She looked up . . . found an altogether different being standing above her. He looked harmless, could not possibly be the god she just saw. Even with the Dreamfire filling her vision she could still not see past his illusion. He was short, and nearing his twilight years. The only hair that grew from his head sprouted from the sides, leaving the top of his head a sweat-slicked dome which reflected any light that fell upon it. The man seemed physically fit, yet a rotund potbelly protruded from his waist, clearly visible even through the thick folds of his green cape.
Who are you?
A pair of wide brown eyes looked down on her, full of sadness yet somehow hope as well. His lips were thin, like scars, and parted to speak.
“I am Anon. I am your Savior.”
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